In his interview with Caspian Energy, Georgia’s prime minister talked about The top priority sectors for investment in Georgia, one of which is transport and logistics.
The main challenge for implementation of the transport corridor from China to EU is to install the necessary “hardware” – transport and logistics infrastructure. In parallel, a lot of progress should be made on acquiring the “software” of international trade.
“This mainly concerns legislative approximation, efficient border management and customs procedures, and, last but not least, free trade agreements with our main trading partners. Moreover, it will be of utmost importance to establish clear and transparent tariffs along the whole corridor,” Kvirikashvili said.
One of the biggest challenges for the Government of Georgia is to strengthen the transit function of the country and the formation of a logistical hub in the region. Therefore it will be crucial to ensure that transportation of additional cargo flows from China to Europe can go through Georgia without any obstacles.
“There is a huge potential for Georgia to capture significant volumes from various alternative routes. The current situation in the region, with various Silk Road initiatives aiming to promote trade, economic cooperation and development, is very promising,” he added.
The Government of Georgia is an active member of several international transport corridors, such as TRACECA, LAPIS LAZULI, and the Baltic Sea-Black Sea International Transport corridor, which have a key role to play in the revival of the ancient Silk Road. The Government of Georgia and the People’s Republic of China agreed to cooperate on the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative.
“There are several important advantages to the VIKING train project: its intermodal nature, its fixed schedule that allows for interoperation with other modes of transport, its competitive cost compared to alternative modes of transport, the minimum time required for paperwork and customs clearance procedures at the border, and the minimum delay for delivery of goods to their destinations”.
The Georgian side signed the protocol on accession to the multilateral “Agreement of Development of cargo shipment towards Baltic Sea – Black Sea” on 15 March 2011 in Kiev (entered into force in 19.03.12).
Georgian Railway became a full member of the Viking project in April 2015, with the Bulgarian navy and the Finland-based company Containerships as associate members and Gefco Company and Steveco Logistics as new operators through Turkey, Sweden and Finland. Members of the project, especially the Georgians, are interested in the accession of Azerbaijan to the VIKING project.
Joining JSC with “Georgian Railway” will ensure that the Caucasus is connected with Europe and Scandinavia as well as improve the conditions of mutual transit of goods between the participating countries of the TRACECA program and in the East-West, North – South directions. It will also create alternative transportation routes for trade between Europe and Asia.
In the framework of the Viking project, the first container train was launched from Illichivsk, Ukraine on 15 January for a test journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to China, across the Caspian and Black seas. The test train was launched after signing a protocol on January 14, 2016 among Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Ukraine on setting competitive preferential tariffs for cargo traffic via the Trans-Caspian international transport route.